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Failed Attempt by Wiglaf

Posted by shirleycurran on 10 July 2015

Wiglaf Pisa 001Wiglaf is a familiar name in Crossword Magazine, the EV and IQ series and he has appeared in the Magpie but I hadn’t solved one of his Listeners previously. However, Dave Hennings’ Crossword Data Base tells me that he had one appear in the Listener in 1999. That’s quite a long break so I had to do a speedy check to confirm that he still qualifies for the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Elite.

Gloom at first as the across clues produce decomposed vegetable matter, ‘Vegetable variety almost resembling decomposed  vegetable matter (5)’ (PEA + TY[P](e) = PEATY), an object of abhorrence ‘Country without leader embodies the object of abhorrence (8)’ ((P)ANAMA round THE giving ANATHEMA) and stewed tea ‘Substantial goodness in stewed tea? Just the reverse (5)’ (MY round TEA* giving MEATY) but not a drop of alcohol.

Fortunately, as well as an antelope, another frequent inhabitant of Listener clues, ‘Pen erected with electric current (5)’ (BIRO< + I = ORIBI) and a bit of nudity, we finally found ‘As with McEwan’s beer from the south, not entirely promising (6)’ (LIKE Y[I]L(l)<, giving LIKELY) and with that not very promising Scots tipple, Wiglaf confirmed his LSOE membership.

A number of other lovely touches emerged as I worked my way down the clues. POLSKA was beautifully concealed in its clue, ‘Cut off retrospective music from Caribbean country for its citizens (6)’ (LOP< + SKA), the imaginative prompt of a hidden word (TEMSE) in ‘Local’s to sift through items exchanged (5)’, the original anagram indicator in ‘Clapped-out structure cited to receive rising support’ (CITED* round P[I]ER< = DECREPIT) and that delightful clue for VAV, ‘Hebrew character produced when one splits the letter WW (3)’ (VV round A).

By the time I had read through those clues, the other Numpty had half filled the grid and when the south-east corner of the grid revealed REVIVER, pronounced the word ‘Palindromes’. ROTAVATOR, TENET, STATS, MALAYALAM – the choice was limited and soon we had only one to fill ‘Worshipped as a god’. With the D of DECREPIT already in place, that could only be DEIFIED and within an hour, our grid was full.

A few unchless words had produced no extra letters as we hadn’t needed to solve them and we had unexplained wordplay for another couple, so there was a brief head-scratch to see whether we could find letters in the wordplay that led to RAI, REM, and BATE that would give us some semblance of a palindromic sentence and we found AS I PEE SIR I SEE EIFFEL. We smiled but were mildly disappointed. We had hoped for something more along the lines of Napoleon’s apocryphal ABLE WAS I ERE I SAW ELBA or SATAN OSCILLATE MY METALLIC SONATAS but had to settle for a urinating Parisian.

However, we knew what we were looking for in the grid now. “It has to be PISA and it is probably leaning.” said the other Numpty and of course, there it was! Thank you Wiglaf for a bit of fun.

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